Just after hearing less-than-positive feedback from the Civic Design Review, the Design Advocacy Group has decided to weigh in on Bart Blatstein’s South Philly projects. The plans for a 32-story tower and rooftop village at Broad and Washington and the 16-acre commercial and residential complex being planned along the Delaware River have previously received criticism from The Inquirer’s architecture critic, as well.
Now in an open letter, the Design Advocacy Group is urging Blatstein to begin listening to the criticism and make feasible improvements that “could be the start of a real conversation.”
Commentary on Broad and Washington:
The “superblock” is another outdated urban design idea. Blatstein is missing an opportunity to reintroduce Kimball Street, running east-west to bisect the nearly 4.5-acre property, relieve the intense concentration of structures, and beckon residents, shoppers, and diners into the development.
An especially curious aspect of the project is its rooftop village, “reminiscent of a village in Provence,” Blatstein says. It is more reminiscent of his rejected casino proposal on North Broad Street. The idea is to create outdoor gathering spaces with retail boutiques and dining establishments. Besides the questionable business viability of this weird location, why is it accessible, even in Tower’s second design iteration, only at Washington and 13th, this time with an open stairwell?
More from the Philly.com piece on the Delaware River project:
The auto-centric project, with more than 650 residential units and enormous “pads” for freestanding big-box retail (do we really need another convenience store on Columbus Boulevard?) neither creates a walkable neighborhood nor reconnects the waterfront to adjacent residential communities. To the contrary, the vast parking lots will be a dangerous and forbidding terrain for any pedestrians hardy enough to try to get to the required riverfront trail.
You can read the full letter here.